Why does the American government choose not to learn from our mistakes? I could be referring to any thing but today, I’m specifically talking about gun control. Or lack thereof. If you’re wondering if it was another mass shooting that led me to this topic, thankfully you’d be wrong. At least today, that’s not the case. But the fact that the thought is so believable is terrifying. No, the reason I’m writing about this is New Zealand.
Last month, there were shootings in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in which a white supremacist killed 50 people. For once, the headlines weren’t ripe with information about how the American government had failed to protect her people. Just like other developed countries, New Zealand has stronger gun laws than the US but there are gaps when it comes to regulating assault weapons. And it was these gaps that the shooter took advantage of when he legally acquired the weapons he would later use to kill worshippers in a holy place.
This is a story we’ve heard time and time again. The only difference is that this time, the Parliament of New Zealand has done something about it. Less than a month after these horrific shootings, they have voted 119-1 to ban assault weapons. Was that really so hard?
With the NRA’s chokehold on American policy, it seems unlikely that such a drastic measure can be taken by US Congress until the public psyche changes and millions of dollars are no longer put toward lobbying for gun rights. The problem in American government goes well beyond just wanting to keep guns; it goes to the lobbyists, the literal interpreters of the 2nd Amendment, the super-PACs. To fix gun control means fixing a lot of other processes in the American system that are wrong. But New Zealand is no less complex. They may be a smaller, more homogenous country but societies that similar also tend to be fearful of outsiders. Today, New Zealand has walked the walk by trying to make their country safe for people from every background. If they can acknowledge and overcome their shortcomings, I have hope that we can too.